Campaigners have been left aghast after the fight against a windfarm development was lost - just after they believed they had secured victory in having it blocked. 

People living in the village of Carsphrain in Dumfries and Galloway believed they had successfully argued against a plan to build 17 turbines, some as tall as 150 meters, in nearby Shepherd’s Rigg.  

Not only had the local authority agreed with them, the Scottish Government’s reporter – to whom developers may appeal – also refused to give the plan the go-ahead.  

Yet before their decision could be agreed by ministers, things changed - and now the turbines will be built after all.  

What is going on?  

The village’s fight against the windfarm is documented in The Herald by Sandra Dick — Scottish wind farms: One village's battle against turbines.  

Villagers accuse the Scottish Government of a “kick in the teeth”, introducing “retrospective law” as eight months after it was blocked, planning policy radically changed and now the green light was given.  

The Herald:

In the intervening months the Scottish Government brought in the National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4), voted on by MSPs and January this year and activated in February. 

While the actual plans for the windfarm – knocked back at two out of three levels of government – had not changed, the ground had shifted beneath the villagers’ feet.  

What is NPF4?  

The National Planning Framework gives guidance to Scotland’s local authorities on how they should structure their planning regulations through their own Local Development Plans (LDPs), what should be prioritised, and what planners should consider when deciding what goes ahead.  

READ MORE: SNP ministers warned planning shake-up will not solve housing crisis

A lengthy document which covers topics from housing to biodiversity, it particularly enshrines infrastructure schemes that contribute to renewable generation 

These are given “significant weight” under the new regime, with the overall intent of energy planning policy going forward to “encourage, promote and facilitate all forms of renewable energy development onshore and offshore”. 

The Herald:

What does the NPF4 say about windfarms exactly?  

Under its ‘Energy policy’ heading, the NPF4 states planner should be encouraged to “promote and facilitate all forms of renewable energy development onshore and offshore.  

“This includes energy generation, storage, new and replacement transmission and distribution infrastructure and emerging low-carbon and zero emissions technologies including hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage.”  

So that’s pretty comprehensive.  

READ MORE: Scottish Government planning reforms "fall short" on tackling climate emergency

On windfarms in particular, it says: “LDPs should seek to realise their area’s full potential for electricity and heat from renewable, low carbon and zero emission sources by identifying a range of opportunities for energy development. 

“Development proposals for all forms of renewable, low-carbon and zero emissions technologies will be supported. These include: 

“Wind farms including repowering, extending, expanding and extending the life of existing wind farms.” 

And how does this affect Carsphrain? 

Effectively, their fight is over. There are no avenues to appeal to, and there is nothing campaigners can do now to stop the windfarm being built.  

Anecdotally, other developments have also been affected, though their stories have yet to emerge.